May 18, 2022

Good morning, MindSite News readers. In today’s edition, we learn more – though not as much as we’d like – about Olga Guralnik, the therapist and star of Showtime’s ‘Couples Therapy.’ Also, the benefits of letting your children know they can talk about anything, loneliness as a risk factor for job loss, and the suicide prevention initiative Project Semicolon.

Meet Orna Guralnik, therapist and star of Showtime’s ‘Couples Therapy’

What enables a couples therapist to successfully guide people to mutual decisions about their family dynamics, even as they lay their hearts bare to millions of opinionated viewers across the nation? A New Yorker profile on Orna Guralnik, star of the Showtime docuseries “Couples Therapy,” seeks to answer that question. The piece provides a glimpse of her as a young adult and the circumstances that led her to become a psychoanalyst, but is careful not to reveal too much, especially about her romantic life. “There’s so much that people gain from being able to not know about me, or from being able to imagine me as one way or another,” she said. “Am I a conservative straight person? Am I gay? Am I queer? The moment I start talking about myself, I’m robbing them of all that.”

But knowing some of Guralnik’s own history offers insight into her grounding and clinical approach. The closer look into her story illuminates the origins of her psychosocial perspective and reveals why so many couples continue to trust her –in private practice, on the set of a television show, or peering in from their screens.

Family chats help children cope with trauma

Photo: Shutterstock

It can be uncomfortable to discuss tragic or frightening events with children, but recent research shows that dialogue about trauma, particularly with parents or guardians, can positively affect children’s emotional processing. In addition to offering immediate comfort, family chats can influence a child’s response to trauma in the future by giving them a reference point on how to react. Avoiding painful issues in an effort to protect children could have the opposite effect. 

“Some people think that if they talk about negative events, they are going to traumatize their child or make it worse,” Melanie Noel, a professor at the University of Calgary, told the BBC. “But having these difficult conversations can teach children empathy, understanding, and the ability to regulate their emotions.” To teach children that it’s okay to engage in dialogue about hard things, parents have to take the lead. 

This is particularly true if the difficult talk concerns what your child is up to. Sarah Halligan, a psychology professor at the University of Bath, explained that just as parents are worried about retraumatizing their children, children are concerned about upsetting their parents – and may keep problems to themselves. Finding the right time can make parents feel awkward, but waiting for children to start a tricky conversation might send a message that certain subjects are taboo.

Are lonely people at risk of losing their jobs?

In 2018, a British study found that people in the United Kingdom who lost their jobs were primed for loneliness because they had fewer social interactions and less money to spend on social activities. But then another group of researchers began to wonder if the opposite was true: Could loneliness cause employed people to lose their jobs? New research from the University of Leeds suggests the answer is yes.

“I was surprised to see that lonely people of all ages were at increased risk of unemployment after one year,” wrote University of Leeds School of Medicine professor Ruben Mujica-Mota in an op-ed for The Yorkshire Post. “We found that for every 100 people, nine more would be unemployed a year later among those who feel lonely at least sometimes than among those who do not.” Mujica-Mota suggested that more intentional interactions with other people at home and at work could help combat loneliness and “foster collective wellbeing.”

In other news…

Sufferers of chronic pain may find relief in mindfulness. Chronic pain –that which persists after 12 weeks despite medication or treatment – can undermine sufferers’ mental health. Pain specialists and mindfulness experts suggest to the BBC that practicing mindfulness can give people in chronic pain an “ability to be in the present moment, without judgment, but with curiosity, kindness and care.” The process may also release the weight of some of that pain from their mind.

Inspiration comes … in the form of a semicolon. Project Semicolon was founded in 2013 to help people struggling with suicidal thoughts, a history of self-injury, addiction or depression to find help and keep going. The project urges people to get tattooed with a semicolon, emphasizing that whatever challenges they may encounter, their story isn’t over yet. In this three-minute segment for Mental Health Awareness Month, people shared with 9&10 News in Northern Michigan the specific inspiration behind their semicolon tattoos. 

In an op-ed for the Chicago Tribune, four mental health professionals decried the lack of services available for the greater Chicago community – especially the lack of culturally competent counselors to support people of color.

If you or anyone you know is considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. And if you’re a veteran, press 1.

Turning Red: A Quirky Coming-of-Age Tale

A teenage girl learns to embrace her inner panda — the weird, emotional, messy parts that lie within us all.

From Memoirs to Big Screen, OCD Finally Gets Its Due

There’s a culture shift in media coverage of OCD. Once played for laughs, it’s now recognized as exhausting, debilitating and relentless.

Black Communities Vow to Ban School Paddling

Corporal punishment is disproportionately inflicted on Black children and is higher in areas with histories of lynching.

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Courtney WiseReporter

Courtney Wise Randolph is a native Detroiter and freelance writer. She is the host of COVID Diaries: Stories of Resilience, a 2020 project between WDET and Documenting Detroit which won an Edward R. Murrow...